Conference Tourney Primers: Patriot League

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 3rd, 2015

It’s the start of Championship Fortnight, so let’s gear up for the next 13 days of games by breaking down each of the Other 26’s conference tournaments as they get under way – starting with tonight’s action.

Patriot League Tournament

Dates: March 3, 5, 8, 11

Site: Campus sites (higher-seeded teams host)

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What to expect: Close games. The Patriot League delivered close games all season long and that trend should only continue this week. Six different teams finished within two games of each other in the final standings and nearly every other contest felt like a barnburner, including Bucknell’s narrow victory over American to clinch the conference title. The Bison get the benefit of home-court advantage – definitely a leg up – but Colgate beat them in Sojka Pavilion earlier this season and Lehigh (at home) smoked them by 19 points last week. Realistically, seven or eight different squads could win this tournament.

Favorite: Bucknell. After winning the regular season title and clinching home court advantage, Bucknell is the closest thing to a ‘favorite’ this league has to offer. The Bison went 8-1 in Sojka against conference opponents and have a player in 6’5’’ guard Chris Hass (15.4 PPG) who is capable of taking over games. ‘Favorites,’ but only barely.

Darkhorse: Lafayette. Defensively, Lafayette is terrible, ranking 337th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency and giving up a league-worst 73.0 points per game. But the Leopards have had their moments on that end of the floor – almost limiting Lehigh to under 1.0 PPP on February 22 – and no other Patriot League unit is as lethal offensively (108.7 points per 100 possessions). If Fran O’Hanlon’s group is firing on all cylinders, it can win three games.

Who wins: Colgate. The Raiders finished too high in the standings to be considered a ‘darkhorse,’ but not high enough to be favored, so Colgate will have to settle with being our pick to win it. This team is one of only two entering the event on a multi-game winning streak and the only Patriot League squad to beat Bucknell on the road. It also shoots better than 40 percent from behind the arc – the seventh-best mark in college basketball.

Player to watch: Tim Kempton – Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks are also a legitimate threat to grab the NCAA automatic bid, thanks in no small part to their sophomore big man. The 6’10’’ son of a former NBA player, Kempton (15.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG) racked up 13 double-doubles this season, flashing an impressive array of post skills for a guy his age.

Tommy Lemoine (250 Posts)

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